Peter Keane doesn’t see how Kerry have come to wear the tag of “raging hot favourites” ahead of tomorrow’s All-Ireland minor final with Galway.
Fair enough, a manager has to say what a manager has to say and Keane is hardly going to tell us that all his team have to do is show up in Croke Park tomorrow and the silverware is theirs. The tag that hangs from their neck, though; it hasn’t landed there by chance.
Six points is as close as any team have come within the Kerry minors this year. That result was achieved by Cork in the Munster decider on the first Sunday in July, a modest defeat when you consider the 11 and 22-point hammerings that were inflicted on Derry and Leinster champions Kildare in their two outings subsequent to that.
Kerry have hit, on average, 2-19 per game, their average winning margin across their five games standing at 13 points. The team is backboned by the all-conquering St Brendan’s, Killarney side which swept to Hogan Cup glory back in April. The mainstay of that Sem team, David Clifford, sits atop the Kerry scoring charts with 1-27 to his name. Captain Seán O’Shea, one of two survivors from last year’s All-Ireland winning Kerry team, is just behind him with 2-23. No team has managed to keep quiet this pair and even should the Tribesmen mildly succeed in this department, David Shaw and Dara Moynihan are just as capable of wreaking terror.
See, there is very good reason why Kerry are “raging hot favourites” for tomorrow’s curtain-raiser. Keane’s not for turning, though.
“I certainly don’t buy into this tag that we are raging hot favourites. Galway beat the team I considered to be the favourites for the All-Ireland, Donegal, in the semi-final and that gives you an idea of just how good they are,” says the Kerry manager.
“Galway are a very good side defensively, get numbers back behind the ball and are very workmanlike in what they do. We certainly aren’t expecting any shootout with them.” And neither should they be – Galway held Donegal to 1-11 last time out, Laois to 0-12 in the quarter-final and Mayo to 0-6 in the Connacht decider.
“They also have the advantage of seeing our game with Kildare whereas we couldn’t really analyse their semi-final because we still had to prepare for Kildare,” Keane continues. “We are having to go backwards to go forwards in preparing for them in that sense. This is a very good Galway side and they have some very dangerous forwards who have been scoring goals for fun. So in preparation for playing them, we are very aware of how good they are.”
Kerry are one of three counties to have achieved a three-in-a-row of minor football All-Irelands, with Cork last to manage the feat between 1967 and ’69. The Kerry manager says they are not looking at tomorrow’s game as a chance to string a third consecutive All-Ireland minor crown. His players are solely interested in writing their own history.
“It’s a grade where there’s always change, there’s always a desire by those involved to take their opportunity when they get it and try and write their own history.
“I use last year’s Galway All-Ireland minor winning hurling team as an example. They won the competition quite well last year, had a good share of the team underage again this year and were turned over by Tipperary in the semi-final. There is no such thing as a normal or average minor team.
“I’ve said of the lads who were involved with St Brendan’s that their time in Croke Park would be of big benefit to us later on in the campaign if we got there.”
Keane concluded: “I hope they give it their all and don’t wake up on Monday morning with any regrets, regardless of what the actual result will be.”
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